Why Should You Get an STD Test?

by Mike Stewart
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Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are a serious sexual health threat. Around the world, there several millions of people that have been infected or are currently infected with them. According to the World Health Organization, over one million sexually transmitted diseases are contracted every day worldwide, and about 376 million new cases are reported each year. In the United States alone, there were 1.7 million cases of Chlamydia, about 560,000 cases of gonorrhea, and more than 30,600 cases of syphilis reported just in 2017.

Below are some more important STD statistics:

  • Almost one million pregnant women are infected with syphilis each year, and they have resulted in about 200,000 stillbirths and newborn deaths.
  • Around 376 million cases of STDs each year are new infections, mainly syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia.
  • Syphilis can increase a person’s risk of HIV infection.
  • There are over 30 different kinds of viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can be transmitted via sexual contact and spread sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Three of the most common STDs — Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis — are curable.
  • HIV, which is caused by a virus, has no cure, and there are around 40 million people on the planet who are living with it.
  • Every year, there are 1.5 to 2 million new HIV infections reported.
  • In 2018, between 20 million and 25 million people had access to antiretroviral treatment for HIV.
  • Between 570,000 and 1.1 million people died from AIDS or AIDS-related complications in 2018 alone, and an estimated 32 million people have died because of AIDS since the AIDS epidemic started.

How do you know if you have an STD?

Not all STDs cause visible signs and symptoms, especially early on. However, if symptoms do appear, they may be one or more of the following:

  • STDSores, warts, or bumps in the genital or anal region
  • Redness, itchiness, or swelling in the genital region
  • Pain when urinating
  • Unusual or strange discharge from the penis or vagina

It is best that you get an STD test to accurately determine whether or not you really have been infected.

Who should get an STD test?

Getting routine STD tests is crucial to your sexual health. You have to undergo an STD test on a regular basis if you:

  • Are sexually active, regardless of your age
  • Have a new sexual partner
  • Have multiple sexual partners
  • Have a history of STDs
  • Engage in unprotected sexual intercourse

What STD tests should you take?

Four of the most prevalent STDs nowadays are Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. Below are information on how they are transmitted, how to detect them, and how to treat them:

  1. Chlamydia test

Chlamydia is a bacterial STD that can be passed on from one person to another through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can infect both men and women and does not always trigger noticeable signs and symptoms.

To diagnose it, your doctor may perform the following:

  • Urine test – This is conducted by analyzing a sample of your urine, looking for traces of the bacteria.
  • Swab test – This is done by taking a swab sample from your urethra or anus.

If your test result shows a positive, your doctor may recommend that you receive a one-time dosage of antibiotics, or you take antibiotics multiple times a day over the course of one to two weeks.

  1. Gonorrhea test

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria that can affect not only the penis, vagina, and rectum, but also the urethra and throat. It is mainly spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex, but can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth.

To diagnose it, your doctor may perform the following:

  • Urine test – This makes use of a sample of your urine to find traces of the bacteria in your urethra.
  • Swab test – This is conducted by taking a swab of your urethra, vagina, rectum, or throat.

If you receive a positive test result for gonorrhea, your doctor may recommend an antibiotic treatment plan that you may have to take orally or via injection. Examples of commonly prescribed antibiotics for gonorrhea treatment are ceftriaxone, azithromycin, and doxycycline.

  1. Syphilis test

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria usually transmitted from one person to another through unprotected sexual contact, vaginally, anally, or orally. Its earliest symptom is a tiny, painless sore that appears at the site where the bacteria entered your body, such as around your genital region, rectum, or even mouth.

To diagnose it, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • common std testBlood test – This analyzes a sample of your blood to detect traces of antibodies that your body produces to combat the bacteria.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid – This is done if your doctor suspects that your syphilis may be causing some nervous system complications. A sample of your cerebrospinal fluid is collected and analyzed.

To treat it, penicillin is primarily used. This antibiotic can easily kill the bacteria, especially if the infection is still in its early stages. If your infection is already in the later stages, your doctor will just have to increase the dosage of penicillin to fight the bacteria more effectively.

  1. HIV test

HIV is an STD caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It can impair your immune system, making you more prone to infections and opportunistic illnesses. It can be spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex, direct contact with infected blood via needles or syringes, and from an infected mother to her baby.

To diagnose it, your doctor may perform the following:

  • Blood test – This uses a sample of your blood to find traces of the antibodies that your body produces to fight the virus.
  • Saliva test – This analyzes your saliva sample to look for antibodies to the infection.

Up to this day, unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV. But, there are medications that you can take to control the virus. Antiretroviral therapy is currently the best HIV treatment available, and it is made up of a number of anti-HIV drugs that can stop the virus from reproducing and causing more harm and damage.

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